Adding Mother to a Mystery

Did you know that seven out of ten Americans call Mom their best friend? Sixty-three percent referred to their Mom as a superhero. I don’t need statistics to know that my own mother falls into the category of bestie and Wonder Woman, but my heroine, Corrie Locke, didn’t quite feel the same way… until her mom made her way into my latest release, Gambling with Murder.

At first, I wasn’t sure how big of a role Mom would play in this installment. Should she help Corrie and sidekick Veera get a foot in the door of a ritzy retirement community and then disappear? After all, Mom’s case cracking skillset was an unknown. She’s an excellent cook and a fashionista, but what else has she got going for her?

Apparently, Mom had quite a few things going for her, as Corrie (and I) discover. The best part? Mom was determined to help solve the case, have a good time and enjoy quality moments with her daughter while solving a mystery. How many mothers can do that? I’m betting on most. Moms are full of surprises and are almost always up for an adventure.

When children or anyone we hold dear need our help, most of us dive right in. Corrie’s mom was no exception. She held her own despite lacking experience, and persisted in getting the job done without missing a lavish buffet or croquet match.

In honor of mothers everywhere, I’ve listed below a few ideas for Mother’s Day gifts (and I know most would agree that Mother’s Day should not be once a year, but should be held on a regular basis to show gratitude to those angels on earth that we hold close to our hearts). Keep in mind that sometimes moms come in the form of dads, friends, neighbors, aunties, grammies, step parents and anyone that is loving, kind, caring, thoughtful and creates a void when they are absent.

            GIFT IDEAS:

  • Homemade or personalized gifts (one of my favorites to make was a custom scrapbook for my mom, grandma and aunty).
  • Chocolate or other edible gifts (like making a basket filled with Mom’s fave treats)
  • Gift cards/certificates (a gift card to Mom’s favorite place to shop or eat never fails)
  • A mani/pedi for Mommy and Me (that was fun!). 
  • Flowers (plants are preferred by me and my mother)
  • Clothing/shoes (another fave)

Everyday Writing - Journaling Adventure

I’d heard of other writers keeping journals, but I wasn’t interested. What would a journal do for me? I’ve enough writing to do as it is.

I’m whistling a different tune these days. I didn’t realize what wonderful satisfaction and perspective journaling can provide. It’s a way to keep positive, constructive thoughts and aspirations close.

I’m not a daily journaler (that is a word, right?); I write in my journal a few times a month, but I always start out my writing with a gratitude list. To keep the important things in life next to my heart. I stop-and-go my writing to let the highest of thoughts and aspirations absorb deeply. My gratitude list includes everything from a warm bed at night and running water to the kindly individuals who cross my path. When our kids were younger, we experienced a financial hardship. We rented a small home not knowing how we would pay. But we did, sometimes a little tardy. We happened to have a landlord who was an angel in disguise. He embodied understanding, patience and generosity, which I still hold close to my heart, some twenty plus years later. Our families were also angels who stepped in to help whenever needed, without being asked.

Journaling helps me to remember those and many other kindnesses, so that I can pass them on, whenever possible. And, so I can better appreciate life and the necessity for helping hands. Journaling also helps me to overcome challenges.

Writing about obstacles, unpleasantries and worries helps to diminish them. They never seem quite as bad on paper. For instance, there’s a human thorn in my side who pops up just when I’ve forgotten the last displeasing encounter. To overcome the encounter, I write about it. That helps me to better understand what’s really going on within myself, and the possible reasons for the actions of the thorn. It helps me to remember that I can’t change the thorn’s inner workings, but I can change my own, namely my reaction. I need to be so good that there’s no room to feel anything but good will. Even toward a thorn. Besides, it’s not that hard to pull the thorn out of one’s side, if done quickly. It’ll hurt less, too.

These are just a few of the things journaling can help a writer accomplish, all of which can lead to peace of mind, well being and better writing. Isn’t that what we all want?

Character Try-Outs: Audition Time

Once I’ve got the seeds of a story, I begin writing and, as new characters pop up, I hold auditions. Not literally, of course, but in my head.

First I consider the basics: gender, age, hobbies, job – and turn to the specifics: quirks, emotional state, sense of humor, role or stake in the story. Character background and history may be important, in case I need to flesh a character out. I also think how the character will look and sound. Here’s an example of an audition:

In Gambling with Murder, coming to the book world on March 29th, heroine Corrie hangs with older folks because the story takes place in a ritzy retirement community where a resident goes missing. But security guards also play a role, keeping the seniors safe, and keeping Corrie under control. Fat chance! (I got that last phrase from a character in Murder: Double or Nothing.)

One of the early scenes involves a guard named Kyle. He’s somewhat menacing at the get-go and takes his job mighty seriously which causes Corrie, and associate Veera, to stand-back, which they don’t often do. Who did I audition for the role of Kyle? A few prospects jumped to mind, real and not so real. Only one character sprang to life and was just who I wanted. Seven feet tall and gangly, but menacing. When Corrie meets Kyle, she mentions his mouth must be filled with steel-capped teeth. I pictured the character Jaws who appeared in a few James Bond flicks. My Kyle loosely resembles Jaws, but with a little more ambition and a soft side that Corrie may or may not discover. 

For the seniors who populate posh retirement community, Villa Sunset, I gathered a slew of old-time actors to audition; very easy for me, since I’m an avid fan of old movies. The seniors are composites of everyone from James Cagney to Myrna Loy with a dash of Laurel and Hardy thrown in. One character, Sofi Reyes, had Myrna’s nose and hair, Jean Arthur’s antics, and a sprinkling of Rosalind Russell to toughen her up.

Each character has to have a distinct voice in my head. Otherwise, how will I know which words to use? During auditions, I listen extra closely once I “meet” the character, and make a list of words relevant to each. For instance, in MURDER GONE MISSING, the janitor’s voice was crystal clear. I knew he’d use words like “nifty.” I also knew he’d feed the koi in the campus pond. Auditions help me create just the right people to play the roles in my books!